With UK property prices hitting an all-time high this year, the business of owning a home has never been so bank account-busting.
Whether you’re scrimping to save for a deposit, cutting down on expense because you’ve just coughed up for one or stuck renting for a few years until something (or someone) gives, it doesn’t make sense to splurge additional cash on raising your home’s style quotient.
But there are ways of pimping your pad without putting yourself in the red. Here, we give you the expert tips for making the most of your home without defaulting on your mortgage.
Part-storage solution, part-display case, a good set of freestanding shelves not only helps keep stuff organised, it shows it off too. “You can accessorise shelves with photos, pictures, lamps, plants, vases, you name it,” says Matthew Long, designer at Habitat. “A good set of freestanding shelves will also add height and interest to your room.”
Some shelving units can even double as walls. (Of sorts.) “Half-open, half-closed bookcases can be used to segregate spaces without the use of partitions or walls,” says Pamela D’Alessandro, designer at interior design consultancy JAC Group. Beats getting the builders in.
Find Your Light
“Lighting is one of the most effective ways to upgrade your space,” says Long.
If you currently rely on a central pendant light to illuminate your living room, he suggests switching to several strategically placed table lamps instead. “They cast a more relaxing light which is [usually] deflected downwards, creating a cosier atmosphere and giving the room a cooler lounge vibe.”
Alternatively, you can kill two birds with one LED bulb by investing in a floor lamp. “Statement floor lamps with big shades, interesting legs or colours can become the focal point of a room.”
Just as important is the light output itself. “The perfect indoor lighting should be as close to natural light as possible, which is 2,700-3,000K [Kelvin units of colour temperature],” says D’Alessandro. That is, of course, unless you intend for the light source to function as the room’s main draw: “A feature light, particularly a feature wall light, can rejuvenate a space without breaking the bank.”
Make A Feature Wall
If you can’t justify sinking piles of cash into overhauling what’s in your room, then change the room itself – all you need is lick of paint.
Create a feature or accent wall by painting one of the room’s walls a colour that contrasts with the others. “This will create a visual anchor within the space while also simultaneously adding an injection of colour,” says D’Alessandro.
Or, if a contrast colour’s too punchy for your tastes, hang an eye-grabbing piece of art on your feature wall instead.
“One of the easiest and cheapest ways to upgrade your room is to invest in a rug to layer on top of your existing carpet or floorboards,” says Long. “There are all sorts of styles out there but flatweave rugs are the cheapest option to add instant colour and can immediately refresh a tired looking space.
“If you have a bigger space, layer a few of these together or lay several side by side to create a bigger piece – an eclectic selection of designs here can work really well.”
Alternatively, for kitchens, bathrooms or other spaces covered in vinyl, you can mask the material’s inherent ugliness by painting it a new colour or in a striped/checked pattern. Bang! The 1970’s vibes are gone.
Deck Out Your Furniture
Since trading in your bog-standard IKEA sofa for something better-made might take a few months’ of saving, it’s worth learning the instant fixes for overhauling your furniture – like cushions and throws.
“The great thing about cushions [and throws] is the fact that they are such strong visual statements in a room but they are so easy to change and, most importantly, cheap,” says Long.
“Create bold pops of colour with bright cushions or layer monochrome patterns or similar neutral tones together for a more sophisticated look.” (A bit like your wardrobe then.)
Arguably the best way to add ‘life’ to a room is to do exactly that – and no, we don’t mean adopting a litter of pugs or turning your flat into a cattery, but decorating your space with plants instead.
D’Alessandro recommends succulents and air plants which are low-maintenance but packed full of colour and can be placed on coffee tables, shelves or hung on metal or wooden plant frames. Just try not to kill them this time.
Pimp Your Bathroom
Only the luckiest guests get to see your bedroom but most will, at some point during their visit, need to answer nature’s call.
It’s the little things that elevate your bathroom above bog-standard – like switching cheap handtowels out for quality supima cotton ones, or storing handwash in a soap dispenser rather than the bulk-bought Carex bottle it came in.
A scent diffuser also comes recommended. For obvious reasons.
Otherwise known as the interior designer’s secret weapon, a well-placed mirror has myriad benefits other than reflecting your natural beauty.
You can place one behind a light source – like a lamp or hanging pendant light – and it’ll maximise the light’s reach, helping to ‘beam’ it throughout the room. You can hang one on the wall of a box room to add the illusion of space. You can even use a smaller mirror to cover up an eyesore you can’t otherwise get rid of – like a thermostat or home alarm system.
“Remember: less is more,” says D’Alessandro. “So staying organised and regularly decluttering can transform a space.”
There’s a difference between eclectic and channelling Hoarders: Buried Alive, so keep your rooms free of stuff that doesn’t need to be there, and contain unsightly extraneous bits like TV and speaker wires with cable clips where possible.
FIXA 114-piece cable management set, available at IKEA, priced £3.50.
Will you be deploying any of these home hacks? Any of your own you care to share?
Let us know below.